Louis C.K. Harvey Weinstein. T.J. Miller. Donald Trump. Names we’ve long been familiar with are being accused of sexual assault and harassment, with a new name added to the list practically each time we turn on the T.V. or scroll through our social media pages. Though these specific cases are focused on high-profile individuals, sexual harassment and assault is, of course, not relegated to Hollywood. In fact, it happens all too often in workplaces throughout the world. According to a comprehensive study conducted by the EEOC in 2016, 25% to 85% of women report having experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Statistically speaking, that number is as many as 1 in 4.
As our society’s collective consciousness finally begins to sit up and take note of the egregious acts committed against women on a daily basis, we believe it’s important to understand what sexual harassment is and what you can do if you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted at your place of employment.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is clearly defined by the EEOC with the following statement: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
What to do if you’ve been sexually harassed/assaulted at work:
1. Tell the person harassing/assaulting you to STOP—in no uncertain terms.
2. Report the incident to HR immediately.
3. Take copious, detailed notes of any/every time the incident happens. Keep text messages and emails. You may need this information as evidence to support that these instances have happened.
If HR takes no action against the harasser (by moving them to a different department, firing them, requiring them to do some sort of appropriate class or training to correct their behavior), you have further action to take, and time will be of the absolute essence:
- File a claim with the EEOC with 180 days of the time when the incident last occurred.
- Once the EEOC has reviewed your claim, they may send a right to sue letter or the EEOC may decide to file a lawsuit on the employee’s behalf. The EEOC may also determine that there was no harassment and send a letter stating so, but that does NOT prevent an employee from filing a law suit—they just have 90 days to pursue a suit after receiving notification from the EEOC, one way or the other.
- After you’ve received a response from the EEOC, you should immediately contact an attorney who handles workplace sexual assault/misconduct/harassment cases. From there, you’ll have the guidance you need to pursue a case.
The attorneys at Heninger Garrison Davis firmly believe you have the right to earn a living without being subjected to sexual assault or harassment. If you have experienced workplace sexual harassment or assault, contact the EEOC here or contact an attorney at Heninger Garrison Davis to discuss the necessary steps to take.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has launched a new online tool intended to make it easier for employees to initiate employment discrimination claims against their employers.
The EEOC Public Portal, which became available Nov. 1, 2017, allows individuals to obtain EEOC services, file charges against employers and monitor their claims through the internet.